02/19/2015 9:43AM

Florida Senate approves bill for uniform drug rules

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A Florida Senate committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would require the state’s racing commission to adopt a suite of new medication regulations that is being pushed nationally by groups seeking uniform rules among racing states.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee passed the bill unanimously, reporting it to the full Senate. Unlike in many other states, where regulations governing racing are devised and approved by state racing commissions, Florida requires the rules to be debated and passed legislatively.

Florida is one of the largest racing states in the U.S., and supporters of reform consider it critical to add the state to the roster of uniform-regulation jurisdictions. As a measure of the importance, Dionne Benson, the executive director of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium, an organization comprised of a wide cross section of racing constituencies that devised the new rules, appeared before the Senate committee to testify in support of the regulations.

Florida’s rules currently allow for the race-day administration of two drugs, the anti-bleeding medication furosemide and the anti-inflammatory drug prednisolone sodium succinate, a corticosteroid. Corticosteroids are a class of drug that have become much more strictly regulated in racing over the past five years, and the new rules would prohibit the administration of prednisolone in Florida within 48 hours of a race, along the model rule, while furosemide would be legal to administer only by regulatory veterinarians four hours prior to a race.

Florida’s racing industry went to the state legislature last year to lobby in support of an identical bill, but the effort was launched late in the year, and the legislature rebuffed the overture. Racing officials vowed then to go back to the legislature early in 2015. With the entire industry behind the bill, the legislation is likely to be passed this year.

Technically, the bill requires the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering to adopt the controlled-medication list devised by the RMTC and approved by the Association of Racing Commissions International, an umbrella group of state racing commissions. The list currently includes 26 medications that can be used within regulated limits as therapeutic medications.

The bill also would require Florida to use an industry-accredited drug-testing laboratory for its post-race testing.

Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
Heres an ideia.lets get serious about this problem..if a trainer gets caught he is banned for life.if someone is caught with illegal medications at the track they are criminally charged and then banned for life. Lasix can only be administered by a state vet and all vet records are made available to inspectors on demand and inspectors can take a random sample anytime they choose to do so.if a substance is found that is not on the vet report the horse gets a 4 month suspension and the trainer and the vet are subject to fines and suspensions. restrict Lasix to older horses and proven bleeders., make sure the testing protocols and sample collection humans are beyond reproach. Testing can only be effective if the sample collector and testing lab are honest...but the most important measure of all is to severely punish the cheats and make it costly to break the rules.
Dennis Fisher More than 1 year ago
Well said Ray Sousa thank you for speaking with integrity
Frank More than 1 year ago
again this is still a joke for the sport and not acceptable. So let me get this right -- In human sports (football/baseball/etc) no drugs or performance enhancing drugs are allowed and random testing performed -- zero tolerance. Yet horse racing you can use steroids, drugs etc -- just not before a race. And there is NO random testing other then if horse races. What a joke - these beautiful animals need better!
Dennis Fisher More than 1 year ago
Thanks for hitting the nail right on the head Frank, obviously your all important message, is that the innocent racehorses are being abused to the 10th degree, by this drug abuse of secret pain killers etc, well conducted by the policeman of horse racing, obviously well ochestrated by the deliberate Elite Blue Blood Breeders schemes and mischief, which is a utter disgrace, which should be titled as "animal abuse."